Barry McNamara  |   Published December 06, 2021

49 Years Late

Book due nearly a half-century ago is returned to Monmouth College library by Alumni Board member John Carlson ’74.

HOME AGAIN: More than 49 years after his original due date, Battles on the Monsoon is... HOME AGAIN: More than 49 years after his original due date, "Battles on the Monsoon" is put in its proper place by Hewes Library Director Sarah Henderson.MONMOUTH, Ill.John Carlson and his 1974 Monmouth College classmate Lynette Johnson Carlson have been married for 46 years.

But there’s a relationship that’s lasted even longer in Carlson’s life, although it came to an end last month.

On Nov. 22, Carlson returned to the College’s Hewes Library the book Battles on the Monsoon: Campaigning in the Central Highlands by S.L.A. Marshall. Its original due date was Oct. 16, 1972, meaning Carlson held onto it for more than 49 years.

JOHN CARLSON: 1974 alumnus had 26 years of military service. JOHN CARLSON: 1974 alumnus had 26 years of military service.“We’re back on campus all the time,” said Carlson, who lives in Orland Park, Illinois. “I thought, ‘One of these days, I ought to return it.’ Finally, last month, I stopped by the library, and I said, ‘I need to ’fess up here. I’m throwing myself at the mercy of the court.’ (Hewes Library Director Sarah Henderson) said the overdue fee was waived. Thank goodness!”

Henderson said: “He asked, ‘Do I owe any money?’ and I said, ‘You’re good. You’re good.’ We’re just happy to have the book back and that he decided it was time for it to come home.”

It’s a book Carlson recommends, now that it’s available once again.

“Really, it’s a great book, and I do feel bad that I had it for so long,” said Carlson. “Maybe now some young man or woman would like to take it off the shelf. I hope that’s what happens and that they enjoy reading it as much as I have. I must’ve read it a million times.”

Carlson, who was an ROTC student at Monmouth, said he has “always been interested in history, especially military history.”

“S.L.A. Marshall was an Army historian, and he published this book in 1966, so it has the perspective of our early years of involvement in Vietnam. I just found it fascinating,” he said.

“I took the book with me everywhere – to Fort Benning in Georgia and to Fort Sill in Oklahoma. I was actually reading it on the C-141 aircraft when I flew to Frankfurt. I was stationed in both West Germany and Luxembourg.” John Carlson

A collection of narratives of small-unit combat actions, Carlson said that Battles on the Monsoon “is full of great stories. For whatever reason, I brought it home to Chicago instead of returning it.”

Following his graduation from Monmouth, Carlson was on active Army duty for three-and-a-half years, then served more than two decades in the Reserves for a total of 26 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

“I took the book with me everywhere – to Fort Benning in Georgia and to Fort Sill in Oklahoma,” he said. “I was actually reading it on the C-141 aircraft when I flew to Frankfurt. I was stationed in both West Germany and Luxembourg.”

As a civilian, Carlson split his professional career almost evenly between working for Borg-Warner Automotive and Porter Athletic Equipment. He’s currently two years into his second stint with the Monmouth College Alumni Board of Directors after serving for eight years in the early 2000s.

When he met with Henderson, Carlson also brought in a brick from Gibson Hall, the Holiday Inn-style residence hall that stood on the corner of Seventh Street and Archer Avenue and housed Monmouth students from 1966-2001. Both he and Lynette lived in Gibson at one point or another during their time at Monmouth, although Carlson spent the majority of his time living in the Theta Chi house.

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